Marybeth Hamilton

‘John’ Thomas Unmasked

Race-ing Justice, En-gendering Power: Essays on Anita Hill, Clarence Thomas and the Construction of Social Reality


Chatto & Windus 475pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

It seemed, at the time, like the most surreal of fictions: US Senators quoting The Exorcist, debating pubic hairs in Coke cans and discussing the exploits of Long Dong Silver. Unfortunately, it was all too real, and its consequences no less than disastrous: a lifetime Supreme Court appointment for Clarence Thomas after the most tumultuous confirmation hearings in history, in which law professor Anita Hill accused him of sexual harassment.

Over a year later, the hearings threaten to fade into dim memory as an inexplicably bizarre moment. This collection aims to forestall that prospect. Edited and introduced by Toni Morrison, Race-ing Justice, En-gendering Power comprises eighteen essays by a notable array of black and white academics, all opponents of Thomas’s confirmation, which delve beneath the episode’s seemingly singular surface and untangle its roots in American history. Taken together, they make clear how much more was at stake than simply one man’s accession to the Supreme Court.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter